Forbes: 50 highest paid athletes in 2022

The magazine published its ranking based on the gross income from their sports contracts and what each athlete earned off the field in 2022.

Barring a setback, Cristiano Ronaldo will hold the top spot in the ranking of highest-paid athletes in 2023. His new professional contract with Al Nasr has a two-and-a-half-year term, for which he will receive $210 million per season (in total he will earn more than $500 million while wearing the Saudi team's jersey), which will catapult him to number one. In addition to his salary, we have to add what he earns from advertising and other sources of income that the Portuguese star may have. However, we won't know that for a few months. In the meantime, we know who was the highest-paid athlete in 2022 and who follows him on the list.

Forbes published the list of the "50 Highest Paid Athletes in the World" in 2022, which includes both what they receive in their sports contracts as well as what they earn outside of sports. Tennis players Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, recently retired from the professional circuit, are the only female athletes to make the list. The sum of the earnings of these 50 athletes totals $2.97 billion, 8% more than the previous year. In addition, sponsorship contracts surpassed last year's record at $1.06 billion.

By sport, basketball has the highest number of players on the Forbes list with 18; followed by football (14); soccer (5); boxing, golf and tennis (3); motor racing (2); and baseball and martial arts (1). Below are the top five highest-paid athletes.

Lionel Messi

The Argentinian soccer player, recent winner of the World Cup in Qatar, ranks first in the ranking with $130 million. His team, Paris Saint-Germain of the French league, paid him $75 million in 2022, plus the $55 million he pocketed in sponsorship, image rights, and other revenues.

However, his sports contract is not the highest in the ranking: that position is held by Mexican boxer Saúl Canelo Álvarez ($85 million).

LeBron James

Some say that Michael Jordan is no longer the greatest basketball player in history. That title now goes to LeBron James.

The Los Angeles Lakers forward and four-time NBA champion earned a total of $121.2 million last year, between the $41.2 million from his contract with the California franchise and the $80 million he earned from his off-court activities.

Cristiano Ronaldo

After signing with Al Nasr, Cristiano Ronaldo received a total of $115 million in 2022. He was paid $60 million from Manchester United, where he played until the end of the year.

His media power makes brands "fight" for his image. His advertising contracts and the businesses he owns brought in an additional $55 million.


The Brazilian soccer player is the fourth-highest-earning athlete in 2022 with $95 million. Paris Saint-Germain, his team, paid him $70 million for his services on the field. His soccer contract is higher than Cristiano Ronaldo's, but he brought in an additional $25 million for his activities off the field.

Stephen Curry

The Golden State Warriors star, like LeBron James, earned more money from his off-court activities than from his professional contract. In total, he pocketed $92.8 million, which was made up of $47 million and $45.8 million, respectively.

Following them on the list are Kevin Durant ($92.1 million), Roger Federer ($90.7 million), Saul Canelo Alvarez ($90 million), Tom Brady ($83.9 million) and Giannis Antetokounmpo ($80.9 million).


At the end of 2022, Cristiano Ronaldo signed the biggest sports contract in history. In total, the Portuguese star will pocket nearly US$550 million (€500 million) for the two and a half seasons he will play for Saudi Arabia's Al Nasr. In April, Philadelphia Eagles reached an agreement with Jalen Hurts to extend his contract for five seasons. The quarterback will earn $255 million, making him the highest-paid NFL player in history.